Page images

A M. 3475. A. C. 529; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4947. A. C. 464. EZRA iv. 7—END, EST. NEH. PART OF HAG. ZECU. MAL. to the tenth generation for ever :' they being sensible of they could not to the citizens, the next day he threatened their transgression in this respect, separated themselves to take them into custody, if they did not go about their immediately from the mixed multitude, which gave Neh- business ; and to this purpose, appointed a guard of emiah an easy opportunity of getting rid of Tobiah, Levites to take up their station at the gate, and to stop who was an Ammonite ; and therefore he ordered the all comers in, that might any way profane the sabbath. people, while they were in this good disposition, to cast Another reformation, and the last indeed that we find his furniture out of the sacred chambers, and to have recorded of Nehemiah, was his dissolution of unlawful them cleansed again, and restored to their former use. marriages among the Jews. Their law strictly forbade

Anjong other corruptions that grew up during the them to make intermarriages with any foreign nations, governor's absence, there was one of which, as he was a either by giving their daughters to them for wives, or by constant frequenter of the public worship, he could not taking their daughters to themselves; but, since their but take notice, and that was, the neglect of carrying on return from captivity, people of all conditions had paid the daily service of the house of God, in a proper and so little regard to this comm

umand, that even the pontifical decent manner. For the tithes, which were to maintain house, which of all others ought to have set a better the ministers of the temple in their offices and stations, example, was become polluted with such impure mixtures, being either embezzled by the high-priest, or withheld insomuch that Joiada the high priest had a son, who by the laity, for want of them the Levites and singers married the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite, who, were driven from the temple into the country, to find a at that time, very probably was governor of Samaria. subsistence some other way: and therefore, to remedy These mixed marriages, besides many other damages this abuse, he forthwith ordered the people to bring in that accrued to the state, would, in a short time, as he their tithes of corn, wine, and oil, into the treasury of observed to them, quite corrupt their native language, the temple ; and having appointed proper officers to d because he perceived, that the children already began receive and distribute them, he recalled the absent min- to smatter the speech of their foreign parent; e and isters, and restored everything to its former order. therefore he required them all, under the penalties of

The neglect of the service of God had introduced a profanation of the sabbath : for, during Nehemiah's ab- keeping the gates on the sabbath-day, was, because he not only

c The reason why he appointed the Levites to this office of sence, the Jews had not only done all manner of servile thought, that, by virtue of their character, they would meet with works on that day, but had permitted strangers, Tyrians, more deference and respect than his domestic servants, but that and others, to come and sell their fish, and other com

when he and his servants were gone from Jerusalem, he was modities, publicly in the streets of Jerusalem. Against admitting dealers into the city on the sabbath-day was quite

resolved to have this watch continued, until this evil custom of these wicked and irregular practices, Nehemiah remon- broken. Patrick's Commentary strated to the chief men of the city with some warnith; d What the natural language of the Jews at this time was, and, to let them see that he was resolved to make a

whether the Hebrew or Chaldee, is matter of some inquiry thorough reformation in this matter, he gave a strict produce the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, besides the

among the learned. Those who suppose that it was Hebrew, order, that towards the evening, before their sabbath prophecies of Daniel, which, for the most part, were written in began, the city gates should be shut, and not opened, Hebrew, and which they suppose the authors of them would not until the sabbath was over: and to have this order more

have done, if Hebrew at that time had not been the vulgar duly executed, he appointed 6 some of his own servants might niake use of the Hebrew language in which they wrote,

language. But to this it is replied, that these Jewish authors for the present to guard the gates, that no burden might not only because the things which they recorded concerned the pass through on the sabbath day. So that when the Jewish nation only, among whom there were learned men merchants and other dealers came, and, finding the gates enough to explain them; but chiefly because they were minded

to conceal what they wrote from the Chaldeans, who at that time shut against them, took up their lodgings without the

were their lords and masters, and, considering all circumstances walls in hopes of selling to the country people, though might not perhaps have been so well pleased with them, had they

understood the contents of their writings. Since it appears their religion. At present, however, because, through the con- then, say they, by several words occurring in the books of Macfusions which have since happened in all nations, it is not to be cabees, the New Testament, and Josephus, that the language known who is an Ammonite, who an Edomite, a Moabite, or an which the Jews then spoke was Chaldee; that this language Egyptian, they hold this prohibition to have been long out of they learned in their captivity, and, after their return from it, date, and that now, any gentile, as soon as proselyted to their never assumed their ancient Hebrew tongue, so as to speak religion, may immediately be admitted to make intermarriages vulgarly, it hence must follow, that what is here called the lanwith them. – Prideaux's Connection, anno 428.

guage of the Jews, and their native tongue, was at that time no a The method of purifying any thing or person that was legal other than the Chaldee, for the ancient Hebrew was only prely unclean is thus described:- For an unclean person, they served among the learned. - Le Clerc's Commentary. shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin,' e From Nehemiah xiii. 23, 24, it appears that there were (that is, of the heifer that was sacrificed on the great day of children in the same family by Jewish and Ph'listine mothers. expiation), and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel,' As the Jewish mother would always speak to her children in which being afterwards strained off' and kept for this purpose, 'a Hebrew or Chaldee, so they learned to speak these languages; clean person,' that is, the priest (for to him the work of purify- and as the Ashdod mother would always speak to her children ing is appropriated, Lev. xiii.) shall sprinkle upon the unclean in the Ashdod language, so they learned that tongue. Thus there person, and on the seventh day at even, after having bathed were in the same family children who could not understand each himself, and washed his clothes, he shall be deemed clean; but it other; half, or one part, speaking one language and the other part is very likely that things inanimate were, immediately upon their another. Children of different wives did not ordinerily mingle being sprinkled with this water of separation, as it is called, together; and the wives had separate apartments. This is a Numb. xix. 9) reputed clean.-Patrick's Commentary. better explanation than that the same child spoke a jargon half

8 It seems as if matters were come to that pass, that he could Ashdod and half Hebrew,-Dr A. Clarke.-ED. not trust the common porters of the gates, and therefore appointed f There are some things in the text, which, as they are made to tome of his own domestics (who, he knew, would neither be care- proceed from Nebemiah's own mouth, and appear in our translaess nor corrupted) to see that the gates were shut, and all traffic tion,sound a little oddly: 'I contended with them, and cursed them prohibited.-Patrick's Commentary.

and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair,'c. xiii. 25, A. M. 3473. A. C.5 9; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4947. A. C. 461. EZRA iv. 7-END, EST. NEH. PART OF HAG. ZECH, MAL. which he inflicted upon some that were obstinate, to put priests for their iniquity and scandalous lives, and opaway their wives, and to have no more communion of that braiding the people with their neglect of the worship of kind with any foreign nation : in which he proceeded God; with their refusal to pay their tithes and offerwith such impartiality, that when the son of Joiada re- ings; with their divorcing their own wives, and marrying fused to quit his wife, he ordered him immediately to de- strange women; and with their inhumanity and cruel part the country; a which accordingly he did, and with usage of their indigent brethren; the very same enormiseveral others that were in the like circumstances, went ties which this good governor laboured to reform. and settled under his father-in-law in Samaria.

How long after this Nehemiah lived at Jerusalem, is These were some of the reformations which Nehe- uncertain : it is most likely, however, that, notwithstandmiah, as a wise and pious governor, made in the Jewish ing all the revolutions c in the Persian court, he contichurch and state. But after his death, it was not long nued in his government to the time of his death, but when before the people relapsed into the same enormities ; for that happened, it is no where said ; only we may obwhich reason we find Malachi, the last prophet under serve, that at the time when he ends his book he could the law; who, not long after Haggai and Zechariah, not be auch less than seventy years old. must have lived in the time of Nehemiah, reproving the

But the sense of these words is no more than this:-'I contended with them,' that is, I expostulated the matter with them. CHAP. II.- Objections answered and Difficulties *I cursed them,' that is, excommunicated them, in the doing of

obviated. which I denounced God's judgments against them, 'I smote certain of them, that is ordered the officers to beat some of the most The Jewish law against marrying with heathens runs notorious offenders, either with rods or with scourges, according to Deut xxv. 2, And I plucked off their hair,' that is, I com- thus :-! When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into manded them to be shaved, thereby to put them to shame, and the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast make them look like vile slaves: for as the hair was esteemed a out many nations before thee,– Thou shalt not make great ornament among eastern nations, so baldness was accounted a great disgrace; and to inflict these several punishments upon marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give them, Nehemiah had a sufficient provocation, because in their unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take to thy son. marrying with heathen nations, they had acted contrary, not only And the reason of the law is assigned in the following to the express law of God, but to their own late solemn covenant

verse : - For they will turn away thy sons from following and promise, Ezra x. 19.—Poole's Annotations. [The author of this note, by the phrase "plucking off the hair," (Neh, xiii. 25) me, that they may serve other gods: for did not Solounderstands shaving the head; but there is no reason for departing mon ? king of Israel,' as Nehemiah argues with the peofrom the literal sense of the words in our version, particularly ple,' sin by these things ?' And if so great a one as as the words signify to pluck off with violence, as if one were he, who excelled all mankind in wisdom, was not sale plucking a live bird. The same word is used in the same sense Ezra ix. 3, plucked off the hair of my head, and of my beard: from the seducement of these outlandish women, hox Also in Isaiah I. 6, 'I gave my cheeks to them that plucked off shall ye be able to preserve yourselves from their enticethe hair. Not only was this mode of punishment practised ments ? And yet, as Moses goes on in his reasoning, among the Jews, but it was also common in Persia, and some-Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God; and times hot ashes were put upon the skin after the hair was the Lord hath chosen thee to be a special people unto torn off, in order to make the pain the more exquisite.-See Horne's Introduction, Paxton's Illustrations, and Gesen. Heb. himself above all the people that are upon the face of Lex.MED.]

the earth.' a Josephus relates the matter, as if this expulsion had been

Here then is an express law, enforced with weighty effecied by the power of the great Sanhedrim: but whether the Sanhedrim was at this time in being or no, as we have no clear footsteps of it until the time of Judas Maccabæus, there · Deut. vii. 1, 2, 3, 4.

2 Neh. xjii, 26. was no occasion for their interposing, since Nehemiah, no doubt,

3 Deut. vii. 6. as governor of the province, had authority enough to banish him c Upon the death of Artaxerxes, (in Scripture called Ahasu out of Judea, as Bertram, (On the Jewish Republic, c. 13.) ex- rus,) Xerxes, his only son by his queen, for he had several by his pounds the phrase, I chased him from me,' (Neh. xiii. 28.) concubines, and among these, the most famous were Segdiabus, 6 Whether the word Malachi be the proper name of a man, or Ochus, and Arsites, succeeded in the Persian throne; but

, by the only a generical name to denote an angel, a messenger, a pro- treachery of one of his eunuchs, Sogdianus came upon him wbile phet, or the like, has been a matter of some inquiry. From the he was drunk, and, after he had reigned no more than five and prophet Haggai, (chap. i. 13,) and this other, whom we cite under forty days, slew him, and seized on the kingdom. But his usthe name of Malachi, (chap. iii. 1,) it appears, that in these times just possession did not hold long, for his brother Ochus, b ing the name of Malach-Jehovah, or the messenger of the Lord, was then governor of Hyrcania, raised a considerable army, and, laroften given to prophets; and under this title, the Septuagint have ing gained many of the nobility and governors of provinces to his characterized, and the fathers of the Christian church have fre- interest, marched against him, and, under a pretence of a treaty, quently quoted, this prophetic writer. But the author of the having got him into his power, threw him headlong into ashes, a Lives of the Prophets, under the name of Epiphanius Dorotheus, punishment used among the Persians for very enormous crim)tells us, that this writer was of the tribe of Zebulun, a native of nals ; so that, after he had reigned only six months and fifteen days, Sapha, and that the name of Malachi was given him, because an he died a very miserable death, and was succeeded by Ochus; angel used visibly to appear to the people after the prophet had who as soon as he was settled in the kingdom, took the name of spoken to them, to confirm what he had said ; though most of the Darius, and is therefore by historians called Darius Nothus, 202d ancient Jews, as well as the Chaldee paraphrast, were of opinion after he had slain his brother Arsites, who thought to have sup that Malachi was no other than Ezra under a borrowed name. planted him, as he had done Sogdianus, and Sogdianus, Xerse However this be, it is agreed on all hands, that he was the last and suppressed several other insurrections against him, continued of the prophets of the synagogue, and lived about 400 years to sway the Persian sceptre for nineteen years, but whether he * before Christ; of whose coming, and the coming of his fore- Nehemiah, his governor of Judea, died first, we have no certain runner John the Baptist, and of whose religion, and the in- account: all that we know is that the last act of the governor's stitution of a catholic and universal church, in the room of the reformation, namely, his dissolution of strange marriages, was in Jewish, he speaks in very full and express terms, (chap. iij. 1.) the fifteenth year of this prince's reign, and consequently but hus -Calmet's Dictionary under the word.

before his death.— Prideaux's Connection, anno 425.

A. M. 3475. A. C. 529; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4947. A. C. 464. EZRA iv. 7-END, EST. NEH. PART OP HAG. ZECH. MAL. reasons, against these pagan marriages : and therefore, had the apostle, at that time, been either of Ezra's or Nesince whatever is done contrary to the law, is ipso facto hemiah's council, he would have given his vote for their null and void, these marriages with idolatrous women, dissolution among the Jews. which were strictly forbidden by God, were, properly We own, indeed, that it is a very gracious declaration speaking, no marriages at all; and the children which of God, ‘ Behold, all souls are mine, as the soul of the proceeded from them, were in no better condition than father, so also the soul of the son is mine ; that soul that those whom we call bastards. No interposition of civil sinneth, it shall die ;' but then we are to consider, that as authority was therefore needful to dissolve these mar- life signifies, in general, all that happiness which attends riages. The infidelity of the party espoused was as much God's favour, so death denotes all those punishments an interdiction, as any of the most proximate degree of which are the effects of divine displeasure ; and among consanguinity, which, by the laws of all civilized na- these, the miseries of the next world are chiefly intended. tions, is known to vacate the marriage.

These indeed shall be allotted to men, according to their But even suppose that the civil authority thought pro- own demerits, without any regard to the faults of their per to interpose in this matter, yet, wherein had the Jews forefathers, which shall neither be laid to their charge nor any reason to complain, if in just punishment for their made an aggravation of their guilt; but as to temporal wilful breach of a known and positive law, they were evils and calamities, it cannot well otherwise be, but excluded from cohabiting with these illegal wives? The that, in the very course of things, children should suffer Jews, I say, especially, who for every light and trivial for the iniquities of their parents. cause « made no scruple even to give their lawful wives Though therefore it may seem a little hard, that the a bill of divorcement, and might therefore, with much children should be included in their mother's divorce, less difficulty, be supposed willing to repudiate those yet the laws of most nations have determined this whom the laws of their God, for fear of their catching point :—That children are to follow the condition of their the infection of idolatry, had forbidden them to live inothers, be it what it will, and, consequently as they are with.

unlawfully born, they must of course be alienated from St Paul, indeed, is not for ‘turning away an unbeliev- the family, at the same time that the mother is repudiated, ing wife,' in case she is willing to dwell with her hus- and in virtue of that very law which declares her marriage band;' but then he supposes, that this couple were mar- to be null. So that it was no arbitrary act in Ezra to ried when they were both heathens, and in a state of abdicate the children, as well as the mothers : though, * infidelity, in which case there was no law, either divine to prevent the danger of their corrupting the other chilor human, forbidding them to marry, whereas in these dren of the family, if they were allowed to stay, and of Jewish marriages with pagans the prohibition is strict; insinuating themselves so far into their father's aftecand therefore, as there was no sin in their coming toge- tions, as to prevail with them in time to recall their ther at first, and the Christian religion, whether it was ejected wives, might be motive enough to a prudent ruler, the man or the woman that embraced it, made no altera considering the then situation of affairs, to put the law tion in the case, his advice is, that they continue to dwell rigidly in execution. As this however was an act of the together, even though they be of different persuasions in government,wherein Ezra, and other good men who feared matters of religion ; because, as he farther adds this the Lord, were concerned, we may reasonably presume, reason, the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the that some provision was made for the maintenance, and wife ; and how knowest thou, O man, but that by thy perhaps the education of these poor children, in the priupeaceable cohabitation with her, thou mayest convert, ciples of the Jewish religion, at the public charge. and save thy wife ?'

How long Nehemiah was in finishing the walls of JeThough therefore the apostle is not for encouraging rusalem, interpreters are not agreed ; because some of any separation between husband and wife upon account them, supposing the space of two and fifty days, “ menof their difference in religion, when their marriage was tioned in the Scripture, to be too short for the perfecting previous to either of their conversions to Christianity; of the whole, have begun iheir computation from the yet, if we will make him consistent with himself, we time that Nehemiah returned his answer to Sanballat's must allow, that he is utterly averse to all mixed mar- first message, and others, from the time that the stoneriages with infidels, when in his following epistle he wall was finished, and so allow the whole fifty-two advises all Christians, *Not to be unequally yoked days for the perfecting of the rest. But if we look into together with unbelievers; for what communion,' says he, the compass of time, from Nehemiah's being at Shushan, 'has light with darkness, or what concord has Christ to the day of the month when these walls are said to have with Belial ?' &c. Whereby he gives us to think, that been finished, we shall find, that no more than fifty-two he esteemed all marriage with heathens illegal, and that, days could well be allowed for the perfecting of the

whole. * Patrick's Commentary on Ezra x. 3. ? 1 Cor, vii. 16.

It was in the first month, called by the Jews Nisan, 32 Cor. vi. 14.

that Nehemiah was at Shushan, and obtained of the king a The school of Shammah, who lived a little before our Saviour, leave to go to Jerusalem : and though we have no extaught, that a man could not lawfully be divorced from his wife, press account what time he spent in his journey, and unless he had found her guilty of some action which was really when he came to Jerusalem; yet if we may make a coninfamous, and contrary to the rules of virtue. But the school of Hillel, who was Shammah's disciple, taught, on the contrary, jecture from the time that Ezra expended in the same jourthat the least reasons, such as, if she did not dress his meat well, ney, we can scarce suppose that he arrived at Jerusalem if she was not agreeable to him in person or temper, or if he before the end of the fourth month. Ezra set out on found any other woman that he liked better, were sufficient to authorize a man to put away his wife.-Selden's Uror. Hebraica, b. ii. c. 18.

* Poole's Annotations, Neh. vi. 15. 6 Neh. ii. I.

may cut

A. M. 3175. A. C. 529 ; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4947. A. C. 161. EZRA iv. 7-END, EST. NEH. Part of HAG. ZECH. MAL, the first day of the first month. He made a short stay, world a narrative how himself behaved in that high staitideed at the river Ahava; but it was the first day of tion; though, in doing this, he could not avoid the say, the fifth month before he reached Jerusalem. Nehemiah ing of something in his own commendation, unless lie could not possibly set out so soon in the year, because had been minded, out of his excessive modesty, lo conhis commission from the king, and instructions to the ceal from posterity (which it had been invidious to do) neighbouring governors, must have taken some time in an excellent example of his extraordinary virtue, and passing through the several offices : and therefore we love of his country. can scarce suppose that he reached Jerusalem sooner St Paul, no doubt, was a very modest man: he than the time specified; and from thence to the twenty- durst not, as he tells us, make himself of the number, fifth day of the sixth month, (including the three days of or compare himself with such as commended themselves ; rest that he gave himself before he began,) the space and yet, in the very next chapter, (that' he might stop will be much about fifty-two days, wherein we suppose the mouths of false apostles, and covetous people,) we that the whole work was finished : ' for if Alexander the find him telling the Corinthians, that he preached the Great, as Arrianus and Curtius relate, built the walls of gospel to them freely, and without desiring any contriAlexandria, which was seven miles in compass, in the butions of them for his necessary support. 61 robbed space of twenty days, why should it be thought a thing other churches,' says he, 'taking wages of them, to do incredible, that a vast number, not of hired but voluntary you service; and when I was present with you, and men, full of zeal for the work themselves, animated by wanted, I was chargeable to no man :—for in all things the example of their rulers, and ranged and distributed I have kept myself from being burdensome to you, and in a proper manner for dispatch, should, in almost thrice so will I keep myself; as the truth of Christ is in me, that space of time, be able to finish a work of less com- no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions pass, when they had long summer days for it, plenty of of Achaia; for what I do, that I will do, that I stones, and other materials hard at hand, the foundation off occasion from those that desire occasion, that whereof the wall unrazed, some parts of it standing entire, in they glory, they may be found even as we :' and after only some breaches here and there to be amended ; and all this, can any find fault with Nehemiah, for telling bis when their design in the whole was, not to study curiosity reader, that what was prepared for me daily, was an but strength, and to provide themselves with such a ox and six choice sheep, fowls in proportion, and once fortification for the present, as would secure them from in ten days, store of all sorts of wine; yet for all this, any sudden invasion of their enemies ?

required not I the bread of the governor,' that is, the How long Nehemiah continued at the Persian court, allowances which were made to the governors appointed after his return from Jerusalem, the sacred history no- by the kings of Persia, to provide them a table," because where informs us. It tells us, indeed, that he came back the bondage was heavy upon this people,' and they not again, after certain days ; but since the word yamin, in a condition, without much dificulty, to maintain themwhich we render days, does equally signify years, and selves : wherefore think upon me, o God, for good, in many places of the Hebrew Scriptures is used in that according to all that I have done for this people.' sense, we cannot but wonder how the generality of chro- To serve God for nothing, or purely for his own sake, nologers, as well as commentators, came to overlook is a notion that perhaps may comport with our glorified this sense of the word, and in so doing, to make Nehe- state, where our service will be attended with vision ; miah's stay at Shushan much shorter than it possibly but, at present, it is too romantic, and what the Author could be. For since he had been twelve years in reform- of our being expects not from us. He who made us, ing what he found amiss among the Jews, and Ezra bad and set the springs in our nature, knows very well, laat been doing the saine for thirteen years before him; we are principally moved by hopes and fears, and for they must, one would think, have brought their reforma- this reason has propounded rewards and punishments to tion to such a state and stability, that a little time could us; nor did we ever find it, till now, accounted a fav not have been sufficient so totally to have unhinged it: in the character of the worthies of old, or an indication and therefore we may conclude, that his absence at court, of their inercenary spirits, that, in all their good works which gave room for these irregularities to grow to such or sufferings, they had a respect to the recompenee an height, was not for certain days, but for some years' of the reward, which God, the righteous judge,' had continuance; and consequently that the author of this promised to give unto his faithful servants. part of his life had no intention, either to magnify his

Ezra, no doubt, was at this time a man of great esteem good offices, or to relate any thing incredible concern- among his brethren, and no less favoured in the Persian ing him; since, though he acquaints us with sundry cor-court; otherwise Artaxerxes would never have granted ruptions that had sprung up, yet he makes the time of him a commission to reform and regulate the affairs of his absence, if we take his words in their proper sense, the Jewish church, fraught with such anple powers, long enough for that purpose.

Ever since that time, the Jews have looked upon him as That Nehemiah was the writer of the account of his another Moses, who, as Moses was the giver of the law, own government in Judea, for that is the subject of his revived and restored it, after it had been in a manner book, most interpreters are agreed : 5 and, as lie appears quite lost and extinguished in the Babylonish captivity

. in that character, it cannot misbecome him to give the There is some reason to believe therefore, that " - this

scribe of the law of the God of heaven,' was the usual i Ezra viii. 15, 31.

* Neh. ii. 6, &c.

title or appellation of honour, whereby Ezra was digni3 Patrick's Commentary, and Poole's Annotations on Nchi, vi. 15 + Prideaux's Connection, anno 128.

6 2 Cor. x. 12. ? 2 Cor. xi. 7.

• Ibid. ver. , & • Patrick's Commentary on Neli. v, 19.

10 Heh, xi. 26.

" Em ni, 1%.

9 Neh. v, 13.

A. M. 3475. A. C. 529; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 4947. A. C. 464. EZRA iv. 7-BNR, EST. NEH. PART OP HAG. ZECH. MAL. fied and distinguished among his countrymen; and that agreed, that the same hand which composed the two Artaxerxes might take it upon common report, and so books of Chronicles was concerned in writing that part insert it in his commission, as the name whereby he was of Ezra, because the Chronicle concludes with the very generaļly styled among the Jews, without ever giving same words wherewith the history begins, which, in himself time to consider what was the full purport and ancient authors, to connect the thread of the discourse, intendment of it.

as Grotius observes, is no unusual thing. The Jewish But if even he did attend to this, yet, as the heathens doctors indeed are chiefly of opinion, that these Chronihad different kiyds of gods, celestial, terrestrial, and cles were written by Ezra. But this can hardly be, beinfernal, he might easily reconcile this to his own princi- cause the author, whoever he was, continues the geneples, only by supposing that this God of the Jews was alogy of Zerubbabel to the twelfth generation, which is one of the celestial order, and, though a deity peculiar lower than Ezra lived. Nor can Ezra be the author of to them, might nevertheless be reverenced and worship- the six first chapters of the book which bears his name, ped by him in conjunction with his other gods.

because the person who wrote it’ is said to have been But, after all, if we reflect a little on the ease and in- at Jerusalem in the time of Darius Hystaspes ; whereas dolence, and, in a manner, total sequestration from all Ezra ® did not go thither until the reign of Artaxerxes. busivess, wherein these great monarchs of the east were it is most likely, therefore, that Ezra, upon his coming used to indulge themselves, we shall find reason to be to Jerusalem, might meet with certain annals or memoirs lieve, that Artaxerxes knew nothing of the matter. If kept, of the several transactions that had happened since he be the same who goes under the name of Ahasuerus the time of the people's return- from captivity, and that in the book of Esther, he had been imposed on by to these, after he had made an extract of such as were Haman to consent to a bloody decree against the Jews, true and authentic; he added a farther continuation of the with so little thought and consideration of what he was history of his own government. For, that the four last about, that he did not so much as remember the person chapters of the book were of his own composing, is eviat whose instigation it was done : and yet, notwithstand- dent from this testimony. " And at evening sacrifice, ing the great mischief which this negligence of his might| 1 arose up from my heaviness, and having rent my garhave brought upon him, we find him instantly sinking ment, and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread into the like sleepy and careless temper. 2. Write ye out my hands unto the Lord.' Then follows the prayer for the Jews, says be to Mordecai and Esther, as it which he made, and immediately it is subjoined, 10 Now liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, and ring,' and whatever is thus wrote and sealed, no man cast himself down before the house of God:' which may reverse. And, by parity of reason, why may we plainly shows, that Ezra was the author of that part of not suppose, that when Ezra applied to court for his the book, which speaks of himself in the first person. commission, the whole form of drawing it up was referred And, in like manner, that Nehemiah was the writer of to him, and such other Jews as he thought proper to take what is reputed his, seems to be evident," not only from into his council? For, “Write ye, as it liketh you, in the his own declaration in the front of it, (which was the king's name,' might, in one case as well as the other, practice of Herodotus, Thucydides, and other ancient be all that the king bad to say to the matter. And in- historians in those days,) but from the testimony of the deed, if we look into the contents of the commission Jewish church likewise, which all along received it into itself, we shall soon perceive that it must have been drawn their canon, and from the approbation of the seventy inby something more than a heathen hand. For if Ezra terpreters, who, from the very first, gave it a place in himself had been to dictate the words, how could he their translation under that name. have expressed the tenor of his commission more fully There is some difficulty, indeed, in reconciling the than in these forasmuch as thou art sent by the king, account of Josephus concerning Sanballat, and what is and his seven counsellors, to inquire concerning Judah recorded of him in Nehemiah. Josephus "2 tells us, “ That and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God, which he, being made governor of Samaria under the last is in thine hand:' what Jewish king could have given Darius, married his daughter to one whose father had more pious instructions than these : *«and thou Ezra, been high priest of the Jews, and that when his son-inafter the wisdom of thy God, set magistrates and judges, law was thereupon driven out of Jerusalem, he obtained such as know the laws of thy God, and teach ye them leave of Alexander to build a temple on mount Gerizim, that know them not? And where can we find a livelier like that at Jerusalem, and to make him the priest theresense of God's supreme authority, and of that regard of.” Now, to make this accord with what we read in Nehewhich is due from the greatest kings and potentates to miah, " the general opinion is, that there were two Sanhis commands, more emphatically expressed than here : ballats, the first the Sanballat of the Holy Scriptures, and

whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it the other the Sanballat of Josephus ; and that there were be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven ?' two marriages contracted by two different persons, sons "Words,” as Jacobus Capellus, in a kind of rapture, of two different high priests of the Jews, with two differcries out, “ fit to be written upon the palaces of kings in ent women, who were each daughters of two different letters of gold, and engraven on the minds of all the Sanballats; the first the daughter of the Sanballat of the faithful with a stile of adamant."

Scriptures, and the other the daughter of the Sanballat * Who the author of the six first chapters of Ezra was, of Josephus, and that he who married the first of them is a matter of some uncertainty ; though it is generally

• 1 Chron, iji. 19. * Ezra v, and vi. 8 Chap. vii.
9 Chap. ix. 5.
10 Ezra x. 1.

í Huetii Demonst, prop. 4. Est. vii. 5. ? Ibid. viii. 8. 3 Ezra vii, 14.

12 Jewish Antiq. b. xi. c. 7 and 8. • Ibid. ver. 25. * Huetii Demonst. prop. 4.

13 Prideaux's Connection, ando 409.

« PreviousContinue »